A matching set today, both from the Great Western Railway, but from two different manufacturers.
The Dapol tank is my first Dapol locomotive, and my first GWR loco... but was it actually great, or not? Let's see...
Large Prairie/5101 Class History: a series of 2-6-2T locos, the class was based on the 3100/5100 Class by George Jackson Churchward (CMO of GWR 1902-1922) that was updated by his successor, Charles Collett (CMO of GWR 1922-1941). 140 were built over a 20 year period, 1929-1949, at GWR's Swindon Works. Originally built as short distance passenger locos, they were successful in this task, but were eventually replaced in that duty by diesels. They then worked in various duties as needed, such as hauling freight and acting as helpers (assisting trains over grades). They did well in these duties as well, but of course were eventually all replaced by diesels. Withdrawals began in 1956, with the last being taken off the roster in 1965. Note the 1965 date - many of these lasted into British Rail ownership. A solid 10 have survived, in various conditions - 8 preserved and 2 as parts donors.
*CMO = Chief Mechanical Officer
5108 History: not a lot available, unfortunately. Judging by the number, it was among the earliest of the class built, in the early 1930's.
It was withdrawn in 1958 and eventually scrapped.
On with the review!
The box info.
And the loco.
Even though you really can't see it, the cab is very nicely detailed.
Details and tool. The long tool is for removing the DCC chip tray. It's a really impressive system - the tapered end is to gently pry off the smokebox door, and inside is the tray, which you use the slightly hooked other end of the tool to pull out like a drawer. No wires to deal with at all, and you don't have to dismantle the loco to access the DCC slot.
Overall Build Quality
Paint and Lettering
Ease of Operation
You may be wondering why the Ease of Operation category is so low. I really hated to do that, but had no choice. As I'll explain below, it had a major issue that was more oversight than defect.
When I removed it from the box, I first studied it, then photographed it, then tested it, all as usual. During testing, it could not make a full trip around my (currently small) layout except at unreasonably high speed (for locos that cut out, excessive speed sometimes gets them over problem areas). Obviously, this was a problem, and I really hated to dig into this beautiful loco, but had no choice. Here's what I found-
The trailing truck took so much weight off the drivers (where the pickups are), that any slight imperfection in the track lifted them off the track just enough to kill the power. To remedy this I tried two tactics: first I removed the trailing truck from the loco (a difficult task, let me tell you!) and tried filing a little plastic off the top. I put it back together and tested it - no change. I had no interest in filing off more plastic, or especially removing the truck again, so I moved on to tactic two; I noticed the axle had suspension, which was very stiff. Investigating this I removed the bottom cover from the truck exposing the whole axle and revealing 2 small springs. I removed the springs, reassembled the truck as tested the loco again. Success! It worked perfectly, and still does several months later.
This problem may not manifest on perfectly laid track, but mine is currently on a flat hard surface floor (no grades), which is flat and level as possible according to building regulations, and what average modeler will have absolutely perfect track anyway? It's not a realistic expectation for manufacturers to think all their customers will have 100% perfectly level track.
I'd like to add that this is based off the model I have, other's may not have the issue (but probably will, considering how they're built).
So, moving on.
Good - the loco is beautiful and very well put together. Once the modifications to the truck was done, it operated perfectly, and it sounds great, too.
Bad - the truck problem. Otherwise fine.
Verdict - without the truck issue, I'd absolutely 100% recommend this one, but with that factored in, I recommend it with a warning - it's a wonderful locomotive, but be advised that there's a good chance you'll have to modify it to get the best performance it can offer.
Next up, also from the GWR, but from Bachmann this time, we have a GWR "Toad" brake van (caboose).
"Toad" is of course short for "towed", a reference to these always being at the back of the train, busy going backwards.
I'll admit I'd have preferred to pair this with a 1400 Class 0-4-2T for the full experience (Toad in the Railway Series/Thomas & Friends is one of these, and a GWR 1400, which is what the accompanying Oliver is based on, would've been perfect. Oh well).
Verdict - it's really nice. Built well, looks great, and operates just as it should.